Exploding screens

This year Kia tasked a film production company with developing a new advert in anticipation of the Frankfurt Motor Show and an 18 screen videowall became the star of the subsequent film. Anna Mitchell finds out from Bächle Event & Media Germany what went into developing the six metre wide display.

Automobile advertising is a notoriously competitive field. If the expensive, creative television adverts don’t convey this you only have to visit one of the world’s major motor shows to understand. Each car manufacturer is vying to shout louder and be more creative than the next.

Therefore in anticipation of this year’s IAA Frankfurt Motor Show Korean manufacturer Kia embarked on producing a video that would attract the attention of visitors and act as an advertising tool after the event.

The video is just over a minute long and shows a man walk into an industrial style warehouse space. There’s a videowall made up of a number of displays of different sizes, mounted in an apparently random arrangement. In front of this is a control desk with some monitors and mixing equipment.

A man enters the room and begins controlling the video wall from the desk in front. The video wall displays a film featuring a Kia car. Sometimes the video is shown across all displays and sometimes the displays are used separately. At the end of the video the display sparks, appears to explode and the featured car is left in the room.

The company tasked with creating this advertising tool was Freiburg, Germany based film production company Image Productions L.A. To create the videowall Image Productions turned to a neighbouring company Bächle Event & Media Germany. The company specialises in exhibitions, conferences and events.

Markus Ortner, head of project management at Bächle, explained: "The request was to provide a six metre wide, three and a half metre high video wall using LCD screens. It had to look like an exploded big screen."

Ortner explains that the first step was to start thinking about how to arrange the screens and which order would be the best way to show the film. The team also had to consider how the structure would be set up.

"We did several proposals using 3D software to virtualise the arrangement of the screens and create a detailed imagination of the what it would look like," he continues. Four versions were proposed and can be seen across the bottom of page 44. A decision was made to opt for Figure 4 and work started.

"The next step was to develop a structure that could handle this screen arrangement," says Ortner. He notes that it was important that the structure did not appear as a big, dark wall with screens mounted on it. "[We wanted] it to look like the screens were floating in the air so the rigging structure behind the screens had to be as invisible as possible."

Eighteen NEC Public LCDs from the Multisync P series were selected. "We chose these screens because of the harmonic image presentation of these displays in all sizes," explains Ortner. "The appearance of all screens, regardless of what size you use, are nearly identical which was key for this project."

Five 40", two 46", seven 52", two 55" and two 70" displays were chosen and all screens were mounted on Audipack truss mounts.

The next challenge was to split the images across 18 screens that were in various positions and of different sizes. At some times the screens were required to show individual images, and at others one image across the entire wall. Ortner opted to link two Hetec V-Match C9 Controllers to create one large picture. "The software provided for the controller was a little bit tricky when using more than one machine but, we did it," he notes. "I was very impressed with the Hetec equipment and how it allowed us to handle this challenge.

"The machines were powerful and easy to handle. We’d never worked with Hetec before and it was the first time we’d used the V-Match controllers. But the company provided support and the software set up was easy. We have the two controllers now and we will definitely use them again. When it comes to video processing for 18 screens in this type of demanding application there really aren’t many products that can do this in Germany."

Ortner says the cabling was fairly straightforward and the company used DVI copper and DVI fibre optic cables as well as several splitters from Kramer.

"Each Hetec machine provided nine DVI outputs, so we used 18 DVI copper cables from the Hetec controllers to the LCDs. The input to the Hetec devices was also DVI but because of the distance from the video control station to the Hetec machines we wanted to use DVI fibre optic cables to make sure we had a perfect video signal arriving at the controllers."

The project demanded management of several inputs and outputs so Analog Way controllers were drafterd in. Ortner used DiVentiX II and Pulse 300 machines controlled with an Orchestra Event controller.

For the control desk an LCD wall was constructed for the control desk comprising three 22" iiyama monitors and two DataVideo 7" preview monitors. Three IBM Thinkpad notebooks, two Pioneer DVJ 1000 DVD video/CD decks and one Pioneer BlueRay Player handled video input. The DVJ 1000s were only provided for show and so it appeared the VJ was controlling the LCD wall.

Sound requirements were fairly minimal for the project but Bächle provided a small d&b audioteechnik so the VJ could hear the music and move accordingly.

Before filming began Bächle tested the whole system by setting it up in-house for half a week. They then only had one day recreate the set-up on location. Filming lasted one day then the team were given one day to dismantle the structure.

"It really did go very smoothly," says Ortner who seems pleasantly surprised. "The most challenging part was to set up the screens. They all had to fix to the wall at exactly the right position and the right distances apart.

"We’ve heard a lot from the client after the installation. They were really happy with how the project was executed and have said in the future they will use us again," concludes Ortner.



Analog Way DiVentiX II, Pulse 300 switcher and Orchestra event controller
Audipack truss mounts
DataVideo preview monitors
Gefen DVI distribution amplifier
Hetec V-Match C9 controllers
Lenovo ThinkPad notebooks
Iiyama LCD monitors
Kramer copper and fibre optic cables and splitters
NEC Mulisync P LCDs
Pioneer DVD video/CD decks and BluRay player


d&b audiotechnik subwoofers, T10 line array